Though the Man in Black, who inspired the band's name -- and gave his blessing to it against the advice of his attorneys -- is no longer here, the Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash aim to keep the spirit of "outlaw" country alive. Formed in 1995 under the leadership of Mark Stuart (vocals, guitar), this revolving band of brothers includes Johnny Fingers (guitar), Christian Dunn (bass) and Joey Galvan (drums). After releasing their roots-country debut, Walk Alone, they followed it up with Distance Between, an effort that sounds much closer to Springsteen's Nebraska (especially Stuart's voice) than Cash's At Folsom Prison. More reflective and starkly mellow, it shows a new side to those Bastards, setting them apart from the retro-tonk crowd. "I felt something evolving that was a lot deeper," Stuart says. "I wanted to open the vein, put the hand right in the oven, get it good and hot...I really wanted to feel my toes on the edge of the cliff." Johnny would have probably approved of living on that musical edge -- hell, he would have probably jumpedoff it too! No word on whether the Sons plan to take a DNA test on the Maury show to establish paternity. 9 p.m. Friday, April 2. McGonigel's Mucky Duck, 2425 Norfolk. For information, call 713-528-5999 or visit www.mcgonigels.com. $10. -- Bob Ruggiero
Bend It Like Bocca
Forget soccer stars. Argentina goes nuts over its ballet dancers. You'll see why when Julio Bocca, the beloved South American heartthrob and virtuoso of the ballet world, brings Ballet Argentino to Houston. A former American Ballet Theater principal and gold medal winner in the Moscow Ballet Competition, Bocca formed his own company in 1990 to showcase the artistry and technical proficiency of young Argentine dancers. His brand of bravura will be on view in Alvin Ailey's masterpiece, "The River," and Ana María Stekelman's passionate work, "The Man in the Red Tie." 8 p.m. Thursday, April 1. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713-227-4772 or visit www.spahouston.org. $18 to $50. -- Nancy Galeota-Wozny
Return of the Mac
Plenty of young symphonic stars will be shining at the Houston Civic Symphony Spring Concert. Tenth-grade cellist Emileigh Vandiver, a Lincoln Center veteran who disses pop music because "it's not very imaginative," will play Tchaikovsky's Rococo Variations. Eighth-grader Christopher Lee will perform Sarasate's classic, Fantasy on Carmen. And pianist Jessica Zhu, just 17, will take on Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf. But the potential show-stealer is Gallery Furniture's Jim "Mattress Mac" McIngvale, who'll narrate Peter. "This is the first time I have done anything like this," says Mac, "so I am excited and nervous about my theatrical debut. I hope that I will do a good job for such a worthy cause." Well and good, Mac, but didn't we once overhear you say, "There's no difference between philanthropy and publicity"? 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 2. Talento Bilingue de Houston, 333 South Jensen. For information, call 281-586-2100. Free. -- Steven Devadanam
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